30 January 2009

An Afternoon Around the World

People pay big bucks for bus tours to a neighborhood like the one in my own backyard. In my spare time, I love to stroll along Devon Avenue, starting at Damen and ending at Kedzie. One minute your senses are filled with the sights and aromas of India and Pakistan; the next, you are tempted by the alluring flavours of Russia and Israel.

Since my high school years, I have shopped at 'Rosenblum's', a Jewish gift and book shop. Imagine! They stock an assortment of merchandise from Israel, music, and gift items. For grocery shopping, I stop at 'World Fruit Market' where I buy quality produce at prices lower than those at the major supermarket chains. Plus there is a wide variety of rice, Indian spices (as well as frozen entrees!), and, in the back, a halal/zabiha meat department. For my sugar fix, I like to visit 'Levinson's Bakery'.

01 January 2009

Falafil Shack Update

During a recent visit to Falafil Shack (6130 N. Ravenswood), I mentioned to the owner that he needed more customers, seeing that I was the only patron in the tiny Middle Eastern eatery. He said that it takes time to build a customer base. He also admitted that the menu prices will go up when/if a more steady stream of customers discover the delicious food his place serves. The ingredients, he conceded, are very expensive and his business won't survive if he continues to charge such cheap prices for menu items.

If, or when, the prices increase I will continue to get my falafel fix; though not as often. I can attest that their food is outstanding, though the service can be rather slow. But that's because, on the occasions I have been there, only the owner was in the kitchen cooking and taking orders from customers. He needs to enlist the help of someone to cook the food, while he takes the orders. The business still has kinks that need to be worked out. For instance, I ordered the grilled chicken legs. The owner said "No, it takes too long." If he does that too often he will lose customers. If a menu item is too time - consuming, then, he should omit it. Instead of walking out in a huff, I simply ordered a substitute: Their combo that featured two kebabs (ground lamb/beef & chicken) and rice, along with a complimentary cup of lentil soup.

I make every effort to support independent businesses located in my neighbourhood, as opposed to always spending my money at corporately - owned ones. It is a brave move to start a business with a recession in - progress. I wish Falafil Shack all the best, and hope that problems will be worked out. And I also hope that they will be able to weather the tough economy. A closed business is not just a casualty of the country's economic woes, but, for the entrepeneurs, the death of a dream.